Listen to the Podcast Version of this post here.
A few weeks ago, I told one of the assistant principals that I felt that our ELA Department was not really collaborating. Everyone was doing their own thing. This school year felt so disorganized. Almost every teacher in the ELA Department have different teaching preps. One teacher was teaching two 7th grade classes and one eighth grade class. I was teaching all 8th grade. Another teacher was teaching two 7th grade classes and one ELD class. Then, another teacher was teaching a self contained class of English, History, and Science all together. When spring semester came around, there was a sudden shift in classes and positions.
In other words, it was extremely hard to plan with one another, where each grade level can sit with each other and just focus on their grade curriculum.
And just today, we finally had a chance, outside of our regular school schedule, to gather together on a Saturday morning to truly plan and collaborate together, in an unrushed environment.
As we gathered together, one of the teachers made an observation how there were just so many constant changes in the ELA Department, where teachers have left or changed to teaching other grade levels, and I was the common denominator that held our ELA department together.
She joked, “Ms. Wu’s membership is always changing!”
It was my first time working with this one teacher. Throughout our conversations, I realized something. In the past 5 years, I was constantly surrounded by colleagues who liked my ideas and did not challenge me, but would take my ideas and use them in their classroom also. However, collaborating with this teacher made me felt like I was in an interview all over again. She asked for the rationale for why I planned a certain way, why we taught these lessons, and why we picked these texts. She did not hold back about how she really felt. It was a refreshing and anxious moment at the same time.
At the end, she came to a conclusion and an understanding of how different we were. How we focused on different things. How we organized things. What we cared more about.
It was a productive day.
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